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Entourage Hybrid Tablet/E-Reader/Netbook Provides Dual Screens

The Apple iPad isn't the only hybrid device that combines the functionalities of an e-reader, tablet, and netbook. Starting this month Entourage Systems will begin shipping its new Entourage Edge, a dual-screen, WiFi-enabled electronic device that runs the Google Android operating system.

The left side of the product offers a 9.7-inch diagonal e-paper display, where users can read e-books in the open standard PDF and ePub formats, draw diagrams, and take notes. The right side is a 10.1-inch diagonal LCD screen for Web surfing, e-mailing, instant messaging, and video ... watching. These two screens work together, allowing the user, for example, to pull up pages and images from the e-paper screen in color on the LCD, open video links from textbooks, or drag and drop terms and names from the e-book into a Web browser to search for additional information.

The system can be used in portrait or landscape mode and can be flipped 180 degrees to reverse the positioning of on-screen material. It can be folded to orient its displays in portrait or landscape mode, and a user can hold the device as a book and single screen or propped like a laptop.

The Edge weighs 3 pounds and comes with 3 GB of built-in memory. The unit takes an SD card or a USB flash drive to add storage capacity and to allow for the shuttling of files between other devices. It includes a built-in noise-canceling microphone and a 1.3 megapixel camera to capture audio and video content. The base price is $499.

The device comes with a battery and power saving modes. The company said the LCD screen has a battery life of six hours; that extends to seven days if the user is only accessing the e-reader.

The company has built an e-book store, with access to 200,000 trade books and a million free public domain books digitized by Google, as well as magazines, newspapers, and periodicals. Offerings will include higher education e-textbooks from publishers such as McGraw-Hill and John Wiley & Sons, as well as content for course use from Oxford University Press.

"Today's students increasingly require advanced digital access and capabilities," said Ed Stanford, president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education. "By collaborating with Entourage Systems, McGraw-Hill will be able to increase the reach of its digital content and deliver an innovative learning solution that empowers students to achieve academic success."

Similar sentiments were expressed by Colleen Scollans, vice president of sales and marketing at Oxford University Press. "This is a device that will revolutionize the classroom, and we are excited to be a fundamental part of pushing that forward," she said.

"The Entourage Edge has the potential to make a significant impact on the way college students use learning materials," said Lisa Culhane, director, program, and channel development at Wiley. "As a portable e-textbook with interactive tools that enable note taking, diagram-drawing, and mobile Internet access, it represents a unique entry to the e-textbook market. We look forward to working with Entourage Systems as they launch this innovative platform."

The company has also joined the Blackboard Alliance Program as a Blackboard Building Blocks Partner and will be developing collaboration features to use with the Blackboard Learn platform. The hope is that the integration will allow students and instructors to share notes, textbook annotations and multimedia content, while simultaneously having access to class schedules, campus maps, the e-book store, and announcements. The Blackboard functionality is targeted as a software release for the device in June 2010.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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